The Good Liar

A good liar is one able to convincingly sell fiction. Their expertise in crafting compelling narratives can see them seize fortunes. Films and TV shows have made a virtue of crafty liars with ‘The Sting’, ‘Minder’ and ‘Hustle’ among them. ‘The Good Liar’ joins this list of dubious salespeople proving you should always be on guard for wayward people who revel in the art of the con.

Always on the hunt for his next prey, career conman Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) chooses his next target - a wealthy widow Betty (Helen Mirren). Meeting her via an online dating site, Roy begins courting Betty with words of love and adoration. Any good purveyor of lies needs to watch out for traps with all not what it seems in the world of spinning tall tales.

Based on Nicholas Searle’s book, ‘The Good Liar’ sparkles under Bill Condon’s solid direction. Almost everything works including the accomplished performances and smartly written screenplay. As with any finely tuned thriller, ‘The Good Liar’ successfully keeps you guessing until the end. Whilst at times the story follows a familiar path, it offers several genuinely unexpected and dark surprises.

McKellen and Mirren provide their usual strong acting. It’s always a pleasure seeing performers of their calibre put their all into crafting an arresting tale. To say anymore would spoil things but from the costuming and subtle music score, the road towards the conclusion is as pleasurable as the wicked cons on display.

It would be a lie saying this is a bad movie as ‘The Good Liar’ wraps its tight tale around you with ease. Puzzle enthusiasts should have a field day deciphering clues to what exactly is happening. It’s advisable to pay attention as the plot effectively weaves away like a magician’s sleight of hand.

Rating out of 10: 7

Knives Out

‘Knives Out’ takes its cue from multiple murder mystery comedies. ‘Murder by Death’ and ‘Clue’, are a few films amongst others that have continually garnered audiences for their witty whodunnits. Unlike those, ‘Knives Out’ is set in the modern era in spite of its Agatha Christie-style trappings. As fun as trying to work out who the evil doer is, ‘Knives Out’s is a consistently enjoyable ensemble romp sure to please even the darkest of viewers.

Crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) invites his extended family to his 85th birthday party. Among his brood are grandson, Ransom (Chris Evans), and daughter, Linda (Jamie Lee-Curtis). The day after festivities are over, Harlan is found dead. Suspecting foul play, seasoned private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is tasked with uncovering the crime as a potential killer lurks in the shadows.

‘Knives Out’ is a fun, twisty turny mystery full of style. Rian Johnson directs with the perfect light touch needed to tease out the comedy and small thrills. He’s clearly a fine student of similar works and uses the best of them to conjure fine viewing. He is ably assisted by an excellent ensemble with Craig clearly having a grand time in a rare comedic role.

An effective whodunnit, ‘Knives Out’ expertly keeps you guessing until the end. Not many of these films know how to blend humour and thrills well. ‘Knives Out’ does this with ease. The ‘old dark house’ location aids in crafting the typical thriller atmosphere as does the stirring music score.

An amiable journey to suspense and mirth, ‘Knives Out’ is consistently entertaining. The direction and cast are top notch with all giving the script the energy it needs for a successful production. There’s no need to have murderous thoughts against the film-makers as ‘Knives Out’ is devilish fun for any secretly blood-thirsty audiences.

Rating out of 10: 8